Coast Guard faults ship in NJ port security breach

AP News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2012 7:17 PM
Coast Guard faults ship in NJ port security breach

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A cargo ship where a man was found in the captain's private quarters hours after scaling a fence topped with barbed wire had an inadequate security plan, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

Authorities said Eric Carrero, 20, of Yonkers, N.Y., scaled a fence separating a parking lot from a secure area Wednesday morning. He was spotted in the area around the Andromeda Leader, a cargo ship unloading its wares, and boarded the vessel through an entrance near its cargo hold.

Despite not wearing a federal transportation worker ID badge — required for all employees in the area — Carrero, who officials said is mentally disturbed, did not arouse suspicion until the ship's captain saw Carrero in his room and called authorities.

Carrero was charged with unlicensed entry of a structure and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, authorities said. A home phone number for him could not be found.

The Coast Guard has completed an investigation into the breach and found the ship's security procedures were inadequate, spokesman Charles Rowe said. Workers are supposed to report anyone not wearing proper identification.

"This is a rare type of security breach. It doesn't happen that often," Rowe said. "Our primary concern is the fact that he got on board."

Rowe said the ship is changing procedures. Security personnel will now meet before cargo is unloaded and identify all employees working within the vicinity, he said.

The vessel is operated by NYK Line, a Japanese shipping company, and primarily transports cars, according to the company's website. Bill Ferguson, a company security officer based in New Jersey, declined to comment.

This is the second recent security breach at a facility operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Earlier this month, a man swam to Kennedy Airport after his personal watercraft ran out of gas.

The Coast Guard found nothing wrong with Port Authority security procedures.

The fence was not far from a guard booth operated by a private security company to check cars coming in and out of the secure area. The guard's focus is on cars and people entering and exiting through the gate, not the fence line, said Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman.

"If they found something we were doing that violated any maritime security violations we would have been cited and we were not," Coleman said.

The agency has dramatically stepped up security at its facilities since Sept. 11, 2001, adding closed-circuit cameras, replacing fencing and requiring background checks for workers on the ground. The agency budgeted $18.9 million for port security in 2012.

Port Newark handles more than 600,000 shipping containers annually.